FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round
Saturday 25 October 2014 - Rookery Hill - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Ball, Keary, Gallinagh (c), Adelsbury, Watkins, Kington (Artus 71), Pratt (Patten 81), McCootie (Stearn 59), Hemmings. subs not used: Allen, Rollo.
|man of the match:
||McCootie (58), Stearn (73)
||A Young, C Bodell, P Forrester
|league position: n/a
||next match: St Albans City (H)
Report taken from
Bath City’s dreams of joining Football League clubs in the first round draw became a nightmare as they were humiliated at lower-league East Thurrock United on Saturday.
City had won 5-1 in the club’s only previous meeting, a FA Trophy tie in 2008, but found themselves on the wrong end of an even bigger scoreline as they suffered an embarrassing afternoon in Essex.
They looked on course for a fourth qualifying round success when, having made the more assured start, they took a 32nd-minute lead through Dan Ball’s fine solo strike.
However, Jason Mellor allowed a Sam Higgins shot to sneak in at the near post just a minute later, prompting a spell of calamitous defending which Ryman League side East Thurrock punished ruthlessly.
Higgins went on to score a hat-trick and strike partner Lewis Smith got two, while Ross Parmenter and David Bryant were also on the mark as City capitulated.
City made three changes to the team which started last week’s controversial 1-0 defeat at Bromley, with Sekani Simpson restored at right-back in place of unavailable Bristol Rovers loanee Pierce Mitchell.
Ben Adelsbury also returned from injury in midfield in place of Kyle Patten, while Andy Watkins was restored to the starting XI at the expense of Ross Stearn.
There was also the welcome sight of Frankie Artus and Chris Allen on the bench after lengthy injury absences.
City took to the pitch in an unusual combination of their traditional black and white shirts with blue shorts and socks, worn to avoid a clash with East Thurrock’s yellow and black strip.
And they produced the first shot on target from an unexpected source, Ball trying his luck with a dipping strike from 25 yards which was comfortably held by home keeper David Hughes.
That prompted a cue of concerted pressure from City in which they forced three corners in quick succession, the last of which ended with Adelsbury – who had scored in each of his last three appearances – firing over from the edge of the box.
The East Thurrock players and fans were incensed in the 20th minute when Andy Gallinagh appeared to handle the ball under pressure at the back. The linesman initially flagged but then changed his mind, leading to home striker Higgins being booked as he protested at the lack of decision.
Higgins was in the thick of the action moments later, taking a crossfield ball superbly in his stride and racing into the City box from the left but dragging his shot wide with only Mellor to beat.
City’s shots had come from distance in the opening 25 minutes, with Chas Hemmings the next to go close with a rising effort from 20 yards which had Hughes scrambling.
But the keeper had no chance in the 32nd minute as City took the lead with a fine goal. Ball intercepted the ball midway inside the East Thurrock half and stepped past two challenges before drilling a low right-footed shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
It was a super strike but City’s advantage lasted just 60 seconds. Mellor did brilliantly to deny Bryant from point-blank range after the ball had deflected into his path but the keeper then blotted his copy book from the resulting corner as he allowed Higgins’ drive to creep in at the near post.
It needed some scrambled defending from Simpson to prevent Smith getting in moments later but the striker did manage to get behind the City defence in the 38th minute, then showed good composure to turn inside Gallinagh and rifle a low drive past Mellor into the far corner to put East Thurrock ahead.
City were stunned but roused themselves enough to put immediate pressure on the East Thurrock goal and went mighty close to equalising when Dave Pratt’s strike cannoned off defender Paul Goodacre and went just wide.
The visitors’ challenge got even greater three minutes into the second half as they were dealt a spot of bother for the second week running. After the dubious penalty which led to Bromley’s winner last week, it was Pat Keary’s turn to be harshly adjudged to have pushed Smith over in the box.
Referee Alan Young had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Mellor was unable to keep out Higgins’ low strike as East Thurrock opened up a 3-1 lead.
The momentum was now fully with the hosts and they struck again in the 57th minute after Nick McCootie conceded a foul on the edge of the box, earning a fifth booking of the season and a suspension in the process.
Higgins unleashed a low drive from the free-kick which Mellor should have held but could only parry into the path of Parmenter, who bundled in East Thurrock’s fourth.
City sent on winger Ross Stearn for the ineffective McCootie but most of the problems were in defence, as illustrated once again on the hour as a long throw into the City box was allowed to bounce through to the unmarked Higgins, who had a simple finish to complete his hat-trick.
It was a thoroughly miserable start to the second period for shell-shocked City, who also had a strong penalty appeal waved away following a challenge on Andy Watkins.
There was almost further embarrassment for the visitors when Mellor took an air-shot at a bobbling back pass but was able to force Higgins wide before the danger was finally cleared.
Artus made his long-awaited return to action following injury when he replaced Ashley Kington in the 71st minute.
But City were all over the place and conceded a sixth goal when Smith was allowed to stroll through a non-existent defence for his second of the game.
And East Thurrock were well and truly in dream land in the 83rd minute as more defensive woe from City allowed Bryant to find space on the edge of the box and he cleverly chipped Mellor to make it 7-1 in style.